This past week has been one of reflection and remembrance for those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon last year. To commemorate those who were injured or lost their lives, the Boston Public Library has displayed some of the items of support left at the site of the bombings. People left anything from hand-written notes to running shoes as a message of love for those grieving.
The "Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial" exhibit was a quiet, thoughtful one as visitors slowly made their way towards each item on display. In one corner, there were three small trees with hand-written messages hanging from every branch. All of the notes were confessions of love for Boston or words of encouragement for the future.
In the center of the room, a platform was covered with dozens of running shoes in remembrance of last year's marathon runners. Another case held a pair of shoes with the promise, “I will finish 4.21.14” written on the heel. There were many vows similar to this one, ensuring more runners will be participating in the marathon this year.
Possibly the most moving section of "Dear Boston" is when you’re standing in front of the four crosses built for former University of Massachusetts Boston student Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Martin Richard, and MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. These four crosses, which were the centerpiece of the original makeshift memorial, were built to honor these four individuals who lost their lives last April. At the memorial, mourners covered the crosses with flowers, candles, and written messages.
The items left at the memorial were not only signs of support from fellow Bostonians. There were also tokens of support and hope from all around the world. The Boston Public Library had on display positive messages from Seattle, Miami, Costa Rica, even as far as Istanbul.
A plaque in front of the display of mementos explained the purpose of the Marathon Memorial. Placing these items at the site of the bombings was in hopes of positively moving forward from the marathon’s aftermath. The plaque says of those who left objects at the memorial, “They acknowledge that violence won’t stop happening, but ask us to focus on compassion, human kindness, and community to find a way through it together.”
Before leaving "Dear Boston," visitors were able to leave parting thoughts about their experiences in a notebook. There were quick notes expressing how many were still hurting and would never forget the tragedy of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The city of Boston may still be grieving, but "Dear Boston" made it clear that we are not alone. With the help of each other and those around us, Boston faces its next marathon without hesitation from the thousands ready to run it.
The Boston Public Library’s "Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial" is open in the McKim Exhibition Hall in the Central Library in Copley Square from Monday, April 7 to Sunday, May 11.